Self Treatment

Superficial burns and scalds

  • Remove source of burn and take off any clothing touching the burnt area
  • Hold burnt part under cold running water or immerse in cold water for at least 10 minutes
  • Do not burst blisters
  • If treating at home keep as clean as possible and cover with antiseptic cream and gauze
  • If travelling to surgery or hospital cover burnt area with cling film or a clean towel
  • Take painkillers if necessary
  • The practice nurse can help with applying dressings

See doctor if:-

  • burn larger than 2-3 cm
  • skin loss (other than burst blister)
  • not on arms and legs
  • a child, particularly under 1 year old
  • not improving after 48 hours


  • stay in cool shady areas
  • drink plenty of fluids
  • apply calamine lotion to relieve irritation
  •  do not expose area to sun again until burn has recovered

In general the higher the number of suntan cream, the more protection it provides. Children should always have regular applications of a high factor sunblock e.g. 25.

SLIP on a t-shirt
SLAP on a hat
SLOP on sun cream

Cuts and grazes

  • wash wound with soap and warm water using a clean cloth or cotton wool
  • press firmly with cloth for 5-10 minutes until most of the bleeding stops
  • remove obvious grit, splinters etc if possible
  • cover with a clean dry dressing / elastoplast
  • if cut is gaping see the practice nurse for assessment
  • tetanus booster will be required if not had one within the last 10 years

Insect bites and stings

  • remove sting from skin if from a bee ( normally a wasp does not leave a sting behind)
  • apply antiseptic or antihistamine cream to reduce irritation
  • wasp sting apply vinegar
  • bee sting apply bicarbonate of soda
  • expect some redness, swelling and discomfort which should settle within 3 days

See doctor

  1. Immediately if there are breathing difficulties
  2. Redness and swelling are spreading more than 5 cm diameter

Sprains and strains

  • rest the affected limb
  • apply ice to the affected part e.g. frozen packet of peas
  • compress the swelling using tubigrip type bandage to give support
  • elevate the joint to help reduce swelling

For example

  1. Put leg and foot on a stool with foot slightly higher than the groin
  2. Hold hand / forearm in sling or inside clothing with hand higher than heart
  • use painkiller if necessary e.g. paracetamol or ibuprofen
  • rest for a few days then start gentle exercise again

Colds and flu

  • rest and drink plenty of fluids
  • take regular paracetamol. Always check the dose
  • steam inhalations with menthol, olbas oil, Vick or Friars Balsam may help reduce congestion
  • high temperatures in children respond to regular paracetamol syrup and sponging with tepid water

Sore throat

  • usually settles in 3-5 days
  • in most cases is due to a viral infection
  • antibiotics are seldom necessary unless due to a bacterial infection
  • gargle with salty water, 1 teaspoon in a glass of warm water, or gargle with soluble aspirin, 1 tablet no more than 4 times a day and only if the patient is older than 12 years
  • take regular paracetamol. Always check the dosage

Diarrhoea and vomiting

  • usually lasts 12-24 hours then starts to resolve
  • very rarely any need for prescription medicine
  • drink plenty of fluid e.g. water, flat coke or well diluted fruit squash
  • if vomiting occurs immediately after a drink, wait for one hour before trying again
  • when drinking freely and symptoms resolving, then start to eat again

See doctor if:-

  1. does not settle in 24 hours
  2. vomiting even fluids
  3. severe abdominal pain
  4. blood in stools
  5. patient is a baby

Head injury including falls, knock downs and blows to the head

For the next 24 hours the patient should be watched carefully, roused and spoken to frequently and must be seen by a doctor immediately if:

  • patient becomes unconscious or difficult to rouse
  • patient becomes confused, irrational or delirious
  • patient complains of persistent headache or develops a stiff neck
  • convulsions or jerking of the face or limbs occur
  • vomiting occurs frequently
  • bleeding from the ear occurs or if there is a watery discharge from ear or nose


  • blow nose to remove all blood clots
  • use firm and even pressure to pinch the nostrils closed between thumb and forefinger
  •  hold for at least 10 minutes timed on a clock
  • if still bleeding repeat for further 10 minutes
  • after bleeding has stopped avoid blowing the nose for at least 12 hours

See doctor if:-

  1. blood going down back of throat
  2. bleeding does not stop